Family history

It’s been awhile since I posted a picture of my desk, but it’s been in front of a plain beige wall since we moved. Yawn. Once I unpacked pictures, I knew I probably wanted to put my family dairy farm related pictures above my desk, perhaps incorporating my milk bottle collection. It took me awhile to form any sort of concrete idea, until I remembered there’s an aerial photo of the farm and then things fell into place. Sort of.

I ordered my photos and headed to Hobby Lobby for a frame. I already had three small barn wood frames, bought at Hobby Lobby many many years ago. I looked at the larger barn wood frames but ended up with a dark red frame. It’s slightly distressed–not really my cup of tea, but it works. I brought it home, got my picture inside, and realized the frame has no hanger. What?! I ended up asking Larry to make a ledge, which I painted the same shade of green as my sewing table.

My "farm" wall

My “farm” wall

I measured wrong. I thought I would be able to fit my half gallon bottle on the shelf. I put that back in the cupboard, got out my cast iron milk wagon, and rearranged my pints and half pints. It works, more or less, although the arrangement of the three smaller frames is off. And that square frame will not hang straight for anything!

For the curious, from left to right: Grandpa driving his milk wagon; aerial of the farm; Nana reading to me; Dad with toy milk bottles.

Stairs go up (and up and up)

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I can’t remember when I last took or posted a “stairsteps” picture, but after sharing a 2010 photo on Facebook last month it was agreed that it was time for an update.

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Have you ever tried to photograph six monkeys kids at the same time?

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They are as silly and (un)cooperative now as they were then. ;)


Jury Duty

This week I received my fourth summons but I have yet to appear for jury duty. My first summons was in Indiana, after I had gotten married and moved to Illinois. I wasn’t summoned again until our first year in Wyoming and I asked for a deferment because I was still nursing Daniel. They didn’t call me again until last year. . .yes, a Wyoming summons after we had moved to Minnesota. I sent the form back with a note that I had moved, but this week another summons was forwarded to me from Wyoming. I hope this time they actually make note of the fact that I have moved and changed my voter registration!

I admit I have mixed feelings about jury duty. I vote because it is my civic duty; if at some point I am summoned in a state where I actually reside, I will serve because that too is my civic duty. But voting only takes minutes out of my day; jury duty can require much more time. Even though my nursing days are long past, I’m still responsible for the care and education of six children. I don’t have access to a babysitter or a substitute teacher (or cook or maid or. . .). Sure, as a pastor Larry’s schedule is flexible and he sometimes works at home, but he still has his own full time job that includes being on call 24/7. And sure, we have teenagers who can do some of my chores if I am gone, but they still need some supervision as well as having their own schoolwork to do. All in all, my unpaid “job” doesn’t lend itself to time away.

I wonder if knitting is allowed in the courtroom. . .

Freshening up

In 2003, we used our Christmas money to buy a pair of pink swivel rockers. They’re technically mauve but this is a boy house: calling them pink chairs is close enough. We sit in them a lot; I was surprised at how hard it was to find a picture! Maybe I usually sit in a pink chair to take pictures? Who knows!

Fast forward to Christmas 2014 and spending our gift money on a second hand leather love seat and an upholstered IKEA bench that serves us as ottoman/coffee table. I’m tired of the pink. It doesn’t coordinate with the new stuff. The pink chairs are worn and dingy but otherwise in good shape, so I started researching how to sew slip covers. There’s not a lot out there, and much of what is out there is written by people with limited experience. This series of blog posts offered the most help I found.


Rachel reading in a pink chair, 2008.


I began with a couple of worn out bed sheets, pinning them to one section of chair at a time, tracing an outline in Sharpie, and then cutting it out with an approximate 1″ seam allowance to allow for adjustments. I then basted together a bed sheet slip cover, ripping and resewing, grumbling under my breath, and returning to the internet in hope of more advice. Finally I had a mostly workable pattern, so I traced my seams with a different color of Sharpie and pulled out all the basting thread. I then cut the pieces on the stitching line, folding in half to ensure symmetry in pieces that needed to be symmetrical. I retraced all the patterns onto Swedish tracing paper and added a 3/4″ seam allowance (1/2″ or 5/8″ would have been enough but I was nervous).

The easy part was cutting out the fabric (cotton from IKEA, cheap and washable). The tedious part was sewing yards and yards of piping. The face palm part was realizing that I needed to add Velcro to the back seams if I wanted to actually get the covers on the chairs! Zippers would work, but I’m still trying to use up the bulk Velcro I bought for who knows what. The hard part was getting the arms to fit properly, and in fact after adjusting the first cover I altered the pattern and the second one went together better. Not perfect, but better. The painful part was stitching my finger tip, through mostly dead skin that didn’t bleed but oh did it sting.

Done! Not perfect, but done, and much more cheerful than dingy pink. I mean mauve. ;)

Joshua playing on his iPad in a red chair-that-used-to-be-pink, 2015.

Joshua playing on his iPad in a red chair-that-used-to-be-pink, 2015.

One last note: before putting the covers on, I padded the chairs with batting to fill in where the chair was contoured but my cover was not. This is mostly visible when looking at an unoccupied chair; I am hoping with wear it will blend into the rest of the chair.


This week’s to do list. . .

‘Tis the season to feel ambitious about the coming school year. As usual, Agnus Dei Academy will commence after Labor Day; unfortunately, due to our move and accompanying chaos we’ve only just finished last school year (and the older kids still have some work to finish). Such is life! Hopefully this year will be better, but then again every year I hope this year will be better than the last. :)

Last week I had the opportunity to sit and visit with Glenda; she was kind enough to fill me in on Minnesota homeschool laws and then we discussed subjects and curriculum. She is much more organized than I am, so this mostly ended up being me looking over her shoulder as our kids are similar ages and we are both teaching the same period of history this year. This weekend I started pulling all of our books that I might want to use this year: mostly Medieval history though I did see things for other subjects as well, such as my beloved IEW curriculum that has been neglected long enough that I need to refresh my memory so that we can use it again. ;) I even found a couple books for the “for sale” pile, in particular Daniel has finished Math U See‘s Alpha curriculum, so we no longer need that teacher manual and DVD.


Some of my favorite possessions were unpacked soon after we moved, since they are also useful items that I, well, use regularly. ;) When it comes to decor, I’m a minimalist: clutter makes me claustrophobic. I do love pretty things! But if a thing has no practical use and no sentimental value, I tend to put it away as soon as possible without hurting the giver’s feelings. I still have a few items that are more decorative than practical, though, and last week we finally started hanging pictures. Ahh. . .there’s no place like home!

Kindly ignore the vent cover. . .this is the only wall in our dining area, so this is where I wanted to hang the crucifix and picture of Nona.

In our room. . .my Pooh quilt, and the composite photo our favorite photographer (Iowa) made for us.

Yes, this is my bathroom. . .this cross stitch quote always hung in Nana’s bathroom and Aunt Janet gave it to me after I blogged about it a few years ago.

I’m still stumped as to where to hang family pictures. The living area in this home is an open layout with a lot of closets, which doesn’t give me many walls. The bookshelves have rather taken over the living room, and the hallway is out of the flow of traffic. I’ll figure out something, but for now I am still thinking.

Summer supper

Tonight’s supper was courtesy of a recipe from one of my favorite little old ladies. Oh, that’s not true. I know some pastors’ wives have found little old ladies to be their arch nemesis, but I seldom meet a little old lady I don’t like (baby boomers are another matter). So, alright, she is one of many favorite little old ladies. :D Moving on. . .

Zucchini patties

After taking the picture, I realized I was using the batter bowl that the ladies gave me when we left Wyoming. Appropriate, yes? Vera’s recipe doesn’t call for carrots, but I only had one zucchini and seven mouths to feed.


A quick note about this picture, and then the recipe. This was the first batch and that was way too much butter! ;) I didn’t add any more and probably could have just started with my well seasoned skillet. Hindsight. And not having made this recipe since last summer. . .


Zucchini Patties


3 cups grated zucchini

1 medium onion, grated

1 clove minced garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 egg, beaten

3 tablespoons (heaping) flour

1 cup grated cheddar cheese


Mix all ingredients except cheese. Heat small amount oil in pan. Put patties in pan and brown on both sides. Sprinkle with cheese, cover until cheese melts.

I doubled this (surprise!). I didn’t measure the vegetables, but kept feeding the food processor veggies to shred until it looked like enough. Gluten free flours work; I use a blend. Besides the carrots, I added a fresh mystery herb from our CSA. Lemon basil, maybe? I omitted the cheese because it never stays on the patties and makes a mess of cast iron, but I still needed to cover the pan after browning to cook the middles (which takes longer than you might think). I offered cheese when serving, although Rachel and I opted for a smear of clarified butter instead. Yum!

Current projects

Who, me? Have more than one project going at a time? ;) At least for now, they are all different types of project!

This year’s birthday yarn: a lovely dark blue with hints of dark green.

I am really getting my money’s worth out of this yarn; I have pulled out and started over several times. ;) I think this is pattern #4 or 5. . .it is the Sweetheart Shawl from the Lion brand website.

Embroidery and paper piecing: a spring themed table runner.

This is my second Wild Olive stitching club project (note to self: take a picture of the first one). I left out the faces this time, wanting  it to be cute instead of cutesy. I enjoyed embroidering the motifs; I’m doing the paper piecing because I want the project done. It’s not hard, I just don’t enjoy it as much. This is actually supposed to be a lap quilt but my plan is to make a table runner instead. I’m also signed up for her newest stitching club, 50 States, though I’m trying to finish this one before starting that one. I can catch up this winter when the days are short and the mercury and snow are falling.

No picture/no details for my sewing project, just one word: boxers. 8-)


I think I have written before about my book group. If not, in short it’s a small group of home school mommies working through the reading lists in Susan Wise Bauer’s Well-Educated Mind and meeting online weekly to chat about that week’s assignment. This month, we’re reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. This is one of my favorite books, so I’m glad to have an excuse to reread it. Discussing it with friends only makes it better! It definitely is an eye-opening look at life in America in the mid 1800s, as it was meant to be for her readers. . .although we have noted that the author was not immune to the attitudes of her time.

Anyhow, I particularly liked the following quote, in which the “he” refers to Uncle Tom himself. Though I cannot imagine the deprivations of a man being treated as property, I still found it an apt reminder that happiness is not at all dependent on life’s perfection. Rather, happiness generaly co-exists with our personal miseries.

Though parted from all his soul held dear, and though often yearning for what lay beyond, still was he never positively and consciously miserable; for, so well is the harp of human feeling strung, that nothing but a crash that breaks every string can wholly mar its harmony; and, on looking back to seasons which in review appear to us as those of deprivation and trial, we can remember that each hour, as it glided, brought its diversions and alleviations, so that, though not happy wholly, we were not, either, wholly miserable.

A 6 year (and 4 month) detour

How long does it take to get from Iowa to Minnesota? For our family, the answer is over six years. Which is ironic when you consider we now live about two hours north of where we lived for eight years. 8-)

But. . .of course it was more complicated than that. When we moved to Iowa, I was twenty six years old with two very small boys and a baby on the way. When we moved to Iowa, I went from living an hour and a half from my parents to eight hours. When we moved to Iowa, I didn’t want to live there very long and resisted putting down roots. I eventually grew some roots in Iowa in spite of myself, but (long story short) they were yanked loose and we landed in Wyoming.

When we moved to Wyoming, I was thirty four years old with six kids aged almost eleven and under. When we moved to Iowa, I went from living one day’s drive from my parents to three days. When we moved to Wyoming, I was determined to make the best of it and make our forever home there. You can stop laughing now!! I’ve already spent plenty of time blogging about the reasons that didn’t work out as I had hoped, so I won’t go there now.

Anyhow, Minnesota. The state I have visited every year of my married life and never once thought “I’d like to live there.” Snow in the winter, mosquitoes in the summer. Liberal politics. Jello salads; or worse, salads with noodles. <gag> The Twin Cities. . .I am not a city girl, and some metro areas make me more panicky than others.

BUT here we are. And here (Lord willing) we’ll stay. I’m forty one years old now, with three teenagers and three little boys who aren’t so little any more. I wish we were closer to my parents than ten hours, but I can get there in a day. In the meanwhile I have friends minutes away rather than hours away. Losing all things familiar for several years–trees, green grass, farmland and white farm houses and big red barns, four seasons, trees, Midwestern friendliness, rain, local strawberries, trees, dressing up to go out–has changed my perspective. Regaining surroundings that are familiar even though the location is new is restoring my sense of balance and making it easier for me to deal with the stresses of every day life (three teenagers, anyone?). Happily we live in a more conservative corner of the state. I don’t have to deal with metro traffic, but the Cities are close enough for a day trip. And about that macaroni salad. . .well, I knew there had to be some hidden benefit to being gluten sensitive! ;)